Friday, January 16, 2009

Accommodation Voucher Scams

Scam artists that prey upon the traveling public make me mad.

As an industry, we need the public to easily access our fine services without their confidence being eroded by shysters.

This blog receives many hits from Google web searches of scams. In particular, we have noticed a recent increase of web based searches for Australian based company "Holiday Fever" that land on our Holiday voucher scheme post that was published back in November 2008.

The media and consumer groups have previously warned the public to check out carefully any discount-voucher schemes for accommodation. Often these vouchers are sold by cold calling telemarketers using persuasive and pressure selling techniques. Websites are used to support these schemes and add legitimacy such as:

We suspect that there have been many of worthless accommodation vouchers sold last year that are only now coming to light as the traveling public try to use them over the peak holiday season.

We have recently talked to several "motellas" that have had guests arrive or have phoned trying to make a reservation with these vouchers.

The weekly eMANZ NewZ from the Motel Association of NZ (MANZ) featured a warning about unsuspecting members of the public that are being sold accommodation vouchers from internet travel sites based in Australia. Unfortunately MANZ did not suggest a clear call to action.

What can be done?

If an accommodation operator comes across a potential guest with these vouchers, then they need to become part of the solution and assist in shutting these shonky Ozzie operators down. We suggest getting as much information from the guest as possible in order to make a written complaint to the Commerce Commission. We suggest that the guest is advised to do the the same.

If enough complaints are received, the Commerce Commission will issue further warnings to the New Zealand public and pass information over to their counterpart in Australia that will be able to take action.

The Commerce Commission can be contacted by:
PO Box 2351
Wellington 6140
Phone 0800 943 600

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